Hidden Gem Will Bolster Defensive Line

The latest in an outstanding group of defensive linemen from Varina High School in Richmond could turn out to be one of the unsung stars of the 2003 recruiting class.

Defensive end Kevin Burke, who has given WVU a verbal commitment, didn't get the notice that former Varina players such as Jonathan Lewis (now at Virginia Tech) did, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have the talent to be a productive player.

"I think he'll be a good player pretty quickly," Varina assistant coach Blanda Wolfe told BlueGoldNews.com. "He was a great player for us, and I think he'll be an even better player in college. When the WVU coaches came down to see him, they thought other schools were missing out on him."

Some schools, such as Virginia Tech, were also impressed with Burke, but may not have offered him a scholarship due to a full roster of defensive linemen. Burke, who got a number of Division 1AA offers as well as some notice from other Division 1 schools, was a late blooming player, which can also hurt in the recruiting game.

"As a sophomore, he almost got cut from the JV team," Wolfe recalled. "He had one last chance to show us something, and he did. As a junior, he played tight end for us, because we were loaded on the defensive line. I think that helped him with his speed and quickness. Then we moved him to defensive line as a senior, and he just took off.

"When we ran ones vs. ones (first team offense against first team defense), he was the one guy who caused our offense problems. He was just a dominant player.

"I think he's always been a defensive type of player, despite the fact that we played him on offense as a junior. He is aggressive and just loves to play. When he gets to West Virginia and gets more coaching on his technique, he's going to get a lot better."

Wolfe says that Burke's first step is one of his best attributes, but other scouting reports also note that he excels at making contact and then disengaging from blockers to get to the ball carrier.

"He has good quickness, and for a guy his size his first step is very good. We moved him around some so teams couldn't run away from him this year."

Burke will start out as a defensive end at WVU, and has drawn some comparisons to Ernest Hunter in terms of style of play.

Burke was selected as the Capital District player of the year, and earned first team regional and first team all capital area selections. He was also a second team all state pick. Burke has achieved a qualifying test score.